Presidents, Yosemite and Hetch Hetchy (or not)

Thanks to everybody who contacted President Barack Obama when he visited Yosemite on June 18. Collectively, we generated about 250 emails urging him to consider restoration.



President Obama spoke passionately about Yosemite, but made no mention of Hetch Hetchy.


Speaking on the eve of the Centennial of the National Park Service Act, Obama spoke powerfully about the legacy of all our national parks, including Yosemite, and of the danger of losing them. Ironically, though not unexpectedly, he omitted any mention of the loss of Hetch Hetchy. Did he even know (in spite of our emails) that it was the sacrifice of Yosemite's Hetch Hetchy that was the very inspiration for the National Park Service Act?

The history of Yosemite National Park, including Hetch Hetchy, is intertwined with the legacy of many our nation's presidents. 

Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Harrison, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft all played key roles in creating and protecting Yosemite. With a stroke of a pen, however, President Woodrow Wilson signed legislation permitting Hetch Hetchy to be destroyed. A remorseful Congress passed the National Park Service Act three years later.

No one today would consider destroying a place like Hetch Hetchy Valley. Restore Hetch Hetchy is committed to undoing the damage, and to returning Hetch Hetchy to Yosemite National Park and for the American people.



At a private luncheon in Yosemite during the 1990's, Sierra Club Director David Brower challenged Bruce Babbitt, President Bill Clinton's Secretary of the Interior, to pursue restoration. Babbitt declined, even though he advocated dam removal elsewhere. (Photo: Sierra Club) 

The City of San Francisco, which benefits from this environmental destruction, is working hard to stop us, having previously stymied restoration efforts by the administrations of President Ronald Reagan and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

There is insufficient critical mass at this time, in either Washington D.C. or Sacramento, to support either executive action that might lead to restoration or legislation that could simply require it. Restore Hetch Hetchy continues to talk to with a number of elected officials, however, including many who understand that restoration can be achieved without losing a drop of water supply

So, with your help, Restore Hetch Hetchy has taken our cause to the California Courts. We intend to show that the value of restoration is greater than the cost of making it possible. San Francisco won an early round as the lower court supported the City's claim that the State of California has no right to enforce its own Constitution when it comes to Hetch Hetchy.

In early July, Restore Hetch Hetchy will file notice of appeal. We believe the merits are firmly on our side and we are working on presenting the strongest possible case.

If you are in a position to make a financial contribution to help us restore this national treasure, it would be much appreciated.

Thank you for your consideration.